Edinburgh is a city of culture and tourism. Scotland’s capital is known for its long weekend breaks, tourist hotspots and fantastic scenery but a key part of any trip is always the bars that the destination has to offer.
Edinburgh is a city that doesn’t disappoint on this front!
Whether you want an elegant cocktail bar (to enjoy a date), a quirky bar with some atmosphere, or a more traditional Scottish bar with a solid range of whisky, Edinburgh is a city that has something for everyone.
Read on to discover the 14 best bars this Edinburgh has to offer. We’ve covered the city centre, West End and the Old Town so if a bar is not on this list, it’s probably not worth the visit…
The Best Cocktail Bars In… Series
1. The Raging Bull
161 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH3 9AA
One of the first bars that you’ll see recommended by any local resident or travel guide is The Raging Bull.
This city centre cocktail bar is best known for its relaxed coffee-drinking vibe by day, and lively atmosphere by night. Upon entering, you’re greeted by a mural of the raging bull to your left and this sets the tone for the kind of atmosphere you can expect. A quirky and cosy speakeasy ideal for groups of friends or a quiet drink alone.
The main attraction is the Espresso Martini and its variations that owner, Nick Madigan is constantly experimenting with. Though you won’t be disappointed by the range of cocktails on offer if a coffee base is not quite your thing.
The staff are friendly and helpful with menu selection, there’s a private hire function room, and if you enjoy the cocktail range there’s a cocktail masterclass session available for those that really want to get involved.
2. The Register Club
Fourth Floor, 42 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2AD
The Register Club is a triple threat bar, you can enjoy drinks, light meals and afternoon tea in a prime location.
Situated on the fourth floor of a luxury hotel (Cheval The Edinburgh Grand), The Register Club is based on the site of the former Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters which makes it a great spot for anyone ticking tourist boxes on a list!
The Register Club is a bar that is seeking perfection. Seating is by appointment only so be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
The food focuses on local artisan ingredients and while most people enjoy the afternoon tea aspect, the cocktail menu has an offering that doesn’t disappoint.
3. Lucky Liquor Co
39A Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 3NH
Lucky Liquor Co is primarily a cocktail bar with a unique angle.
The cocktail menu at Lucky Liquor Co is the main attraction, but don’t be expected to face decision fatigue.
The menu is made up of 13 signature cocktails and 13 branded spirits only. The menu rotates quarterly (every 13 weeks – hence the number of cocktails) to allow the team to create a unique and well thought out offering with each new menu release.
Recently nominated for Imbibe Magazine’s Most Avant-Garde Menu award, you’ll be impressed by the cocktail mixing techniques they utilise here which include; an extensive filtration method used to create a transparent cocktail and also a technique that involves using sugar to extract citrus oils.
While the drinks are great, the atmosphere is also laid back and welcoming, with the main focus being around the community.
There’s a vinyl night on a Sunday where guests can bring their own records to be played, a group reading night, and a cosy chillout area in the basement. If you’re looking for a unique cocktail experience, Lucky Liquor Co should be a go-to bar.
4. The Cauldron
57a Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 1LH
For anyone familiar with the concept of the ever-growing bar chain, The Alchemist, The Cauldron in Edinburgh provides a scaled back and more intimate approach to molecular mixology.
Patrons of The Cauldron are treated to a cocktail class where magic and mixology are the main focal point.
Harry Potter fans will love putting on a cloak and being immersed into a chemistry class that sees you brew your own cocktails – all while making use of a magic wand as your mixology tool for the session!
The cocktail class, lasting 1 hour 45 minutes, allows small groups to follow an interactive process that enables you to create your own “potion” based cocktails.
They’ve also recently launched the Wizard Afternoon Tea session which follows a similar concept in that you brew your own magical teas while being gifted fantastical treats.
Both experiences are great for anyone looking to try something different or less traditional and this bar is unlike any other you’d find in Scotland – not just Edinburgh!
5. The Bon Vivant
55 Thistle St, Edinburgh EH2 1DY
The Bon Vivant is a European inspired bar/restaurant that focuses on casual (yet fine dining) in a relaxed and welcoming venue. The bar has been described by many as stylish, refined and relaxed.
Wooden décor with deep leather sofas and armchairs set the scene for what’s used by many as a quiet and elegant bar for post-work drinks or a cosy weekend visit.
Guests can expect small A La Carte dining options or tapas bites which can be accompanied by a range of champagne, wine, or cocktail options.
Overall, The Bon Vivant is a classy yet cosy experience highly recommended by locals, yet rarely sought out by tourists so make a note of this hidden gem.
6. Whiski Rooms
4-7 N Bank St, Edinburgh EH1 2LP
The name is a dead giveaway, but when in Scotland you should do as the Scots do and enjoy a fine malt beverage. With whisky being the main alcohol of choice in Scotland, the Whiski Rooms bar is a must-visit for anyone looking to sample the best of Scottish whisky.
With over 300 bottles to choose from in both the shop/bar establishment, Whiski Rooms has a collection of rare, popular, and global whiskies to choose from.
The adjoining shop houses a collection that has the added benefit of a tasting room and tasting sessions for anyone looking for something a bit more immersive, but don’t just think Whiski Rooms is an establishment for whisky only…
The Whiski Rooms is a restaurant and bar offering dining options that utilise local Scottish produce alongside a range of beers, wines, and cocktails. The bar also features stunning views overlooking The Mound and central Edinburgh.
Therefore, come to Whiski Room for the whisky and stay for the food – and more whisky of course!
7. Panda & Sons
79 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 4NF
Panda & Sons is best described as a dark, vintage establishment that looks to recreate the prohibition-era speakeasy.
What does that mean in simple terms?
A welcoming and comfortable hideaway to enjoy some of the best craft beer and cocktail range that Edinburgh has to offer.
Panda & Sons is a multi-nominated, award-winning establishment that made it onto the list of the Worlds 50 Best Bars at position 32 in 2020 and also ranked number 7 on the top 50 cocktail bars list!
This means that Panda & Sons – despite looking low-key and ordinary from the outside – offers one of the most refined and thought out cocktail menus not only in Edinburgh but in the world.
If you’re looking for a cocktail drinking experience, you’ll be disappointed if you visit Edinburgh and don’t take a trip here.
34A N Castle St, Edinburgh EH2 3BN
As with Panda & Sons above, cocktail aficionados will be disappointed if they don’t make the trip to Tonic, a lively venue producing some of the best cocktails around.
The award-winning cocktail menu at Tonic is enhanced by the lively and skilled bar staff who have been helping to keep Tonic thriving for over 15 years. The cocktail menu itself features many traditional cocktails with many featuring a “Tonic” signature twist.
These are spread across six menus with chapters for each spirit type, ensuring that regardless of your palate, there will be a cocktail to suit your tastes.
Unlike other cocktail bars, Tonic has a lively edge due to the younger demographic and live DJ sets played at weekends. This ensures that you won’t just enjoy the cocktails on offer but the opportunity to drink and dance at this hidden gem tucked away in the city centre.
52 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LD
Situated in Edinburgh Old Town a short walk from Edinburgh castle, Dragonfly is a trendy, modern, and very much 20’s inspired cocktail bar.
As Edinburgh’s self-professed “longest-standing cocktail bar”, the décor and atmosphere for Dragonfly is a key appeal for many.
A large hanging chandelier, polished wood bar top and balcony combined with evening DJ sets at the weekend and an extensive cocktail list make this a lively spot for many working professionals in the city.
A quick browse through their Instagram page will highlight some of the unique and elegant cocktails that they have to offer and a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor shows that customers have nothing but a good time when visiting one of Edinburgh’s oldest cocktail bars.
10. Paradise Palms
41 Lothian St, Edinburgh EH1 1HB
Paradise Palms is a truly unique drinking and dining experience. While this is a list of the best bars, it first needs to be highlighted that Paradise Palms has a dining experience different from most, in that they have an award-winning vegetarian menu (certainly an intriguing offering).
Paradise Palms is a forward-thinking bar with a distinct culture.
They have an LGBTQ policy, the venue and offices are run on 100% renewable energy, single-use plastics are banned from the venue and they operate a vegan/vegetarian menu to benefit the environment.
All of these factors ensure that Paradise Palms is a welcoming community bar that ensures you have a positive and memorable experience. The cocktails are great, there’s a range of activities including dance-offs and bingo, and there’s even a record store.
With so much going on, Paradise Palms is definitely a visit to remember!
11. Sandy Bell’s
25 Forrest Rd, Edinburgh EH1 2QH
Sandy Bell’s is the local pub to rival all local pubs!
What was once a local grocery shop in the 1920s, Sandy Bell’s transformed into a hotspot for folk music over time and is a prime tourist attraction for visiting musicians, poets, and touring bands to this day.
While it may not have the dazzling list of cocktails that you’d see from other venues on this list, Sandy Bell’s creates an atmosphere and welcoming environment that few others can match.
Visitors over the years have included Aly Bain, Barbara Dickinson and Billy Connolly to name a few so if you’re anything of a live music fan then Sandy Bell’s is a must-visit location.
While live music is the main attraction, you won’t be disappointed by the drinks on offer with a range of real ales and over 75 different malt whiskies to choose from so settle in and enjoy the music.
12. The Devil’s Advocate
9 Advocate’s Cl, Edinburgh EH1 1ND4
The Devil’s Advocate is a cosy, unassuming bar with a world-class menu, drink offering, and award-winning staff team to give guests truly memorable dining or drinking experiences.
Situated in the historic Old Town in an old Victorian pump house, The Devil’s Advocate maintains a historic look. With high ceilings, exposed brickwork and visible ducts yet this bar is tucked away down an alley so the décor isn’t something that attracts passers-by or tourists, the drinks offering does that!
The Devil’s Advocate bar holds an extensive and eclectic collection of 300+ whiskies to choose from and their award-winning cocktail range (currently sitting at number 6 on the top 50 best cocktail bars list) is of course whisky focused.
With that said, their cocktail range is not just renowned for whisky and you can sample some of the classic cocktails if that’s your choice.
There’s a wine and food menu on offer but due to the size of the bar and popularity, it’s best to book a table for a small group or quiet date before it gets busy from 5pm/6pm onward.
13. The Blackbird
37-39 Leven St, Edinburgh EH3 9LH
Blackbird is a unique and relaxed café-bar that takes inspiration from the bars of Portobello Road and Shoreditch in London.
There’s a blend of coffee (for the day) or cocktails (for the evening) with Scottish cuisine and street food for a combination of old meets new in terms of what a modern café should be.
The exposed stone and reclaimed furniture create a cosy and relaxed environment while an “Alice in Wonderland” inspired mural gives the décor a quirky edge.
Blackbird is a favourite among students due to its location and arguably the main aspect of Blackbird is their beer garden which is well renowned on a hot summer’s day, though trying to find one of those in Edinburgh is a rarity in itself.
The quirky décor, carefully curated cocktail list and Scottish light bites make Blackbird a go-to spot for anyone looking for a relaxed, yet Instagram-ready drinking or dining experience.
14. The Hanging Bat
133 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH3 9AB
We’ve not saved the best for last, but there’s no denying that this craft and microbrewery is a must-visit for any avid beer drinker that finds themselves in the historic city of Edinburgh.
When it comes to beer, you’ll be spoilt for choice at The Hanging Bat.
There’s a selection of over twenty draught beers and ales and over one hundred bottled beers sourced locally and internationally and like any good craft bar, you’ll also find an extensive and ever-changing spirit selection from independent distilleries.
Dark wood, low lighting, and deep leather couches offer a relaxed and comfortable environment to enjoy the range of beers alongside a carefully curated food menu.
The “bar snacks” include hot dogs, burgers, bread, cheeses and nachos with haggis as a topping – is haggis topped nachos traditional Scottish cuisine or a cultural infusion? We’re not too sure…
If you’re looking for a relaxed and quiet bar trip, look no further than The Hanging Bat.
Check out our guide to Edinburgh Cocktail Week, a highlight of the Scottish cocktail scene.
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